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Italian Cuisine: What Makes It So Special?

by Annette Greifenhagen

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Ask any food lover and chances are their bucket list includes eating pasta in Italy. One of the most well-known and probably the best cuisine in the world, Italian cuisine, has its roots dating back to ancient times.


Part of the healthy Mediterranean cuisine, the Italian way of cooking is known for the regional diversity, simplicity, use of pasta, and excellent olive oil.

So exactly what makes Italian food so special? In this article, BookCulinaryVacations.com reveals some of the secrets of the Italian cooking style!


Simple Recipes


Got a recipe for an Italian dish, be sure to take a closer look !


Reading American or English cookbooks, for example, you will notice that for most of the Italian recipes you need lots and lots of different ingredients.

Preparing several of these dishes, in spite of all the different ingredients, in most cases, we were not exactly overwhelmed by the taste (of course there were exceptions).

In contrast to this, most Italian recipes rely on very few but high-quality ingredients. Most recipes have only four to eight ingredients.


Healthy Ingredients


Landscape from Umbria, Italy

Photo credit: Agriturismo Villa La Rogaia


Italians are picky when it comes to food and cooking


In our village in the Italian countryside, you can see old ladies living on a small pension shopping at the grocery store. Even if they have very little money they will not buy some sort of cheaper salami or ham of average quality. They will rather buy a few slices of really high-quality salami or the famous ham from Norcia. For them, excellent quality is much more important than quantity (By the way, they also would hardly ever buy processed food).

It is obvious that Italians prefer the original taste of quality goods to any mixture of dozens of tastes blended together, or worse, processed and ready-made foods. Because they know that it takes very little to prepare a delicious meal.

Let’s look at this simple and delicious recipe.


Italian cuisine staple: pasta al sugo di pomodoro

Photo credit: Agriturismo Villa La Rogaia


Pasta with tomato sauce


The pasta, preferably homemade, or of a good brand, is cooked "al dente" (with a bite). You can use any kind of pasta for this dish, like spaghetti, penne, farfalle or ravioli with ricotta and spinach filling.

The "sugo", the tomato sauce, is made with fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes, harvested at the exact right time. During summer you can use the fresh tomatoes as soon as you pick them, while during winter you can use a preserve, either homemade or from a good brand.

Sauté the garlic lightly in high-quality extra virgin olive oil, add the tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden, from your windowsill or from the market. Do not use those sad dry crumbs of "basil" out of a plastic bag or spice jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the "sugo" simmer for about 10 minutes and serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and some fresh basil leaves on top.

By the way, it is very easy to make your own cherry tomato preserves during summer: just fill a handful of washed cherry tomatoes in a jar, add a little sugar but no water, close the jar tightly and cook the glasses in a pot with boiling water for about an hour. In that way, you will have tomatoes that still taste like tomatoes, with a full aroma and some sweetness, even during winter.


Have a perfect meal!


Each of the ingredients is tasty and has a value of its own. You don´t need anything else.

The idea, and probably the main "secret", is to keep the cooking simple and not to destroy the flavor of each single ingredient by adding too many different flavors.


Short cooking times


making home made italian pasta

Photo credit: Agriturismo Villa La Rogaia


It doesn't take a long time to cook really nice meals for your family and your friends to enjoy.


Keep it simple and save time!


To preserve the taste and health benefits of the ingredients you should not overcook them. That also means less time spent in the kitchen but more time to have a relaxing meal with your family and friends.


Enjoy the "momento conviviale" (festive moment), the moment lived together!

You - and your family - will get used to the original taste of fresh quality food and will be more likely to eat healthy food on a regular basis. Mediterranean fresh food is definitively healthier than fast food.


So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and give it a try!



Photo credit: Agriturismo Villa La Rogaia


Do you want to learn more secrets of Italian cooking? Join Ornella, Regina della Cucina for the cookery classes and full-immersion culinary weeks!

The following culinary vacations are available:

  • 8 days full immersion cooking holidays in Italy - during this week you will experience the fun of four authentic hands-on cooking classes as well as guided sightseeing tours, a truffle hunt, wine tastings, olive oil tastings, shopping tours and meals in celebrated restaurants every day.
  • 8 days truffle hunting and cooking holidays in Italy - during this week you will prepare four complete dinners from the Antipasto to the Dolce, under the guidance of Ornella, a maestra of Umbrian Cucina casalinga (teacher of Umbrian home cooking), you will accompany a truffle hunter with his dog to witness how these precious delicacies are found, visit a producer of Vin Santo, the local sweet wine and taste the freshly pressed olive oil.


*This article was originally posted on Rogaia’s blog

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